The Much-at-Once: Music, Science, Ecstasy, the Body

The Much-at-Once: Music, Science, Ecstasy, the Body

The Much-at-Once: Music, Science, Ecstasy, the Body

The Much-at-Once: Music, Science, Ecstasy, the Body


In this capstone work, the late Bruce Wilshire seeks to rediscover the fullness of life in the world by way of a more complete activation of the body's potentials. Appealing to our powers of hearing and feeling, with a special emphasis on music, he engages a rich array of composers, writers, and thinkers ranging from Beethoven and Mahler to Emerson and William James.
Wilshire builds on James's concept of the much-at-once to name the superabundance of the world that surrounds, nourishes, holds, and stimulates us; that pummels and provokes us; that responds to our deepest need--to feel ecstatically real.


Edward S. Casey

However vague and difficult to describe verbally all that may be in our varie
gated experiencing of time, the self-compounding of the self is fundamentally
real: It is at the heart of our ecstatic being…. the much-at-once of each is com
posed individually into a meaningful whole and sequence. That we all compose
fugally is shared!

—Bruce Wilshire, The Much-at-Once

Bruce Wilshire was a great, strapping man—a person of great height and a thinker of great depth. He had outreach—into his contemporary world and its most grievous problems—as well as inreach into the emotional subtleties of the human heart and the cognitive complexities of intellect. His outsized hands wrote a series of moving and memorable books, while his dynamic body took him, every year, into the Sierra Nevada mountains of northern California. He was a native of Los Angeles, where the highest mountain in the region, Mount Wilshire, was named for one of his ancestors: I have wondered whether his own gigantism was modeled on the monumentality of this majestic mountain. Despite his physical prowess (he was a swimmer as well as a climber), he was increasingly interested in the delicate psychophysics of the lived body, finding in the Feldenkrais method (as had John Dewey before him) a gateway to a liberated corporeality. With his wife Donna, he engaged in indigenous practices and rituals, being convinced that the life of native peoples sets a pattern from which late modern peoples have much to learn.

Bruce Wilshire was a giant in the earth. He was someone you looked up to: You had no choice but to do so, not only because of his physical . . .

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